Harvest Fest Fundraiser helps homeless youth - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Harvest Fest Fundraiser helps homeless youth

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A program that gives back to the homeless youth in the community is raising funds in hopes of expanding their reach.

The Next Step program is full of volunteers that give their time to help the homeless youth in the community and they use their personal vehicle to transport children in need to doctors appointments, dentist appointments, and counseling meetings. 

For $3.00 a person, they're hoping to raise enough money to buy a company van called, Community Care Van would be used to help Next Step in it's mentoring, housing, street outreach and supportive services.On Saturday, there were vendors from different organizations and businesses that had games and candy for the children to participate in. 

Lacerilsha Johnson, a dedicated volunteer for the Next Step fundraiser says she spends a majority of her time giving back to the community with different organizations, but she loves this event because it's for our youth that's in need.

"It just gives us great insight of what we need to do to better our community," said Johnson.

Onreka Givens Johnson, the founder of the Next Step program says they have a goal of $2,000 to raise from the fundraiser. Johnson is hoping to get enough to make a down payment for a vehicle for the Next Step program. She says until they raise enough money, they have to continue to transport students in need to and from schools in their person vehicles.

"There's Over 200 youth that are homeless that are homeless in high school in Lawton public schools right now," said Johnson. "We want to be able to get them to doctors appointments, job interviews, and a lot of times they lose their jobs because they don't have transportation."

Vendors such as home depot, family promise and school tutoring programs are all a part of helping the Next Step Homeless youth program. They provided games, tooth brushes, candy, and educational activities. Onreka, says she hopes the children will take away and realize what resources they have in the community.

"A lot of times they can give that information back to the parents and we would like them to know what is out there for them and to let them know the community supports them, so when they grow up they can say well I remember going to this event and I want to volunteer to do the same thing," said Johnson.

Lacerilsha says seeing the smiles on the children's faces as they come and go at the fundraiser is what makes the whole experience worth while. 

"I've been doing this for awhile and I just enjoy it," said Johnson. "Giving back, it makes me feel good inside."

If you would like to donate or are in need of services by the Next Step Homeless Youth Program, you can call 580-917-0266. They also accept canned goods and non-perishable food items for children in need.

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